Lashing out at Abhishek Singhvi on the draft Lokpal Bill, Team Anna on Wednesday accused the Congress leader of disrespecting Parliament by going against its commitment of including lower bureaucracy and Citizens’ Charter in the ambit of the ombudsman.
Activist Arvind Kejriwal said Mr. Singhvi, the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Lokpal Bill, was disrespecting Parliament by not abiding by the assurances given in a resolution passed by Parliament during Anna Hazare’s fast to include lower bureaucracy and Citizens’ Charter in Lokpal.
“Parliament passed resolution during Anna’s fast to include lower bureaucracy and Citizens’ Charter in Lokpal. Now, Abhishek Manu Singhvi is disrespecting Parliament by violating it,” Mr. Kejriwal said. The panel has recommended exclusion of lower bureaucracy and Citizens’ Charter from Lokpal Bill.
He claimed that the recommendations of the Standing Committee will not have any impact on corruption but instead it will dismantle the existing anti-graft mechanism.
“I think the recommendations of the (Parliamentary) Standing Committee, whatever they are, the Lokpal which is coming, I don’t think this will have any impact on corruption. On the contrary, it is likely to dismantle whatever exists in the name of anti-corruption in this country,” he said.
Claiming that the Standing Committee proposes to divide the Central Bureau of Investigation into three parts, Mr. Kejriwal said the move will cripple the investigating agency.
“So by taking excuse of Anna andolan rather than strengthening the anti-corruption system, they seem to further weaken whatever exists. We are disappointed,” he said.
However, he was of the view that it was “extremely difficult” at this stage to say anything because Standing Committee’s recommendations were not final.
“The government can accept or go further than that. So let’s wait and watch and only then we will be able to tell what form,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
He said that Citizen’s Charter and lower bureaucracy both would not be part of Lokpal. “We have learnt that many parties within Standing Committee have protested over it but even such recommendations are still made,” he said.
Asked whether Mr. Hazare will go ahead with his proposed fast, he said it was for the Gandhian to take a call. “As far as fast is concerned, it is Anna who is going to decide.”
“All that I can say is we are committed till the end for a strong Lokpal Bill,” he added.
On the panel’s recommendation that Group C and D employees would be covered under CVC, he said, “CVC has only 230 employees. How can these 230 employees keep a track of 57 lakh employees. You need to have at least 28,000 employees.”
Another Team Anna member Kiran Bedi said opposition parties should come together on Lokpal issue the way in which they did so on FDI issue.
She also indicated that inclusion of Prime Minister under Lokpal may not remain their priority, saying bringing CBI under the ombudsman will make anti-corruption efforts more effective than any other measure.
Mr. Bedi said Lokpal without the CBI is a “sabotaged Lokpal” which will defeat the very purpose of setting up such a mechanism.
“More than the Prime Minister, it is the CBI in Lokpal which will make it effective. Let’s not get distracted. A united Opposition can call the bluff,” she said.
She said CBI under Lokpal means all corruption exposed and “many embarrassed, losing false images. Will they vote against themselves?” She said Lokpal was supposed to be replacing government control over CBI.